The three R’s to a project re-fresh
We all think of January as a time to reflect on what has passed and what is yet to come; to address our successes, failures and learnings; a time to plan, to dream, to re-set and re-start.
September is also very much a time for new beginnings. Partly because it is the start of the new academic year and even if we are no longer touched by school terms, new shoes, stationery sets and pencil cases, September still signals the end of the summer holidays, the start of autumn and the long uninterrupted period before Christmas.
They are not the only times though, that we should be doing such evaluations and preparations. As project leaders, we are already constantly scanning the horizons, but we also need to pause and regularly check-in to review the landscape, seek out new challenges and opportunities and where necessary, reframe project priorities as a result.
On most projects there are milestones and stage-gates already baked into the plan, but wouldn’t it be a good idea to also plan a project “re-boot” as well, and take the opportunity to re-energise the project, to refocus, refresh and revitalise the team. Take some time to check you are all still on Target*, that the Terrain* of your project hasn’t changed, that your Tribe* is OK and still aligned around the Target agreed on how best to utilise your resources most effectively (Time*) and that everybody is committed to Thrive* by taking care of themselves in the long haul through to the next major review or milestone.
Good project discipline says we should take time out to celebrate success, but common sense says that along the journey you should also check-in to make sure that everybody is still on the right road, not suffering from fatigue or being blocked by unacknowledged risks and issues. Whilst project budgets are constantly under pressure and travel restrictions mean big project events are becoming a thing of the past, it doesn’t mean that you can’t still get people together for a re-boot – we are all so well versed in the ways of virtual communications now, there really is no excuse not to.
How to re-boot
So, what exactly would this activity look like? We consulted our ExtraordinaryPM Alumni (a cohort of extraordinary PMs and business professionals that have all completed the Mastery Programme) and came up with a number of suggestions about how you could orchestrate a project re-boot with your team:
- Create an artificial stage gate
- Run an interim lessons-learnt session
- Review all the project assumptions
- Review the roles and responsibilities
- Re-workshop the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
- Review the business case
- Run a team building exercise
- Have an interim celebration of all the successes to date
Making sure you are in the right jungle
You might ask isn’t this what project reporting is supposed to do? Maybe it is, but in reality, what it usually does is report progress against where we expected to be based on the knowledge we had when we first created the plan. Whilst plans get updated as we move through the phases of a project, we don’t often build in the opportunity to ensure that everyone has the same understanding of the plan and that we are still in ‘the right jungle’.
The ‘jungle’ reference used here, comes from Stephen Covey’s ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ which asserts we can often so busy cutting through the undergrowth that we fail to realise we are in the wrong jungle! https://togethertothetop.com/the-seven-habits-and-the-wrong-jungle/
The benefits of a re-boot
The point of a project re-boot is to shine a torch and illuminate a moment in time, take reflection of how we are doing, what we have achieved so far, where we are going now and are we all in the best possible shape to get there together.
Restate the Target, reassess the Terrain, refresh the time plan, re-energise the team.
It is a simple way to create renewed enthusiasm and a confidence boost that your project is on the right track to deliver successfully – rather than at risk of being on track to deliver a lot of good work which no longer adds up to a successful solution for the business issue you are there to address.
Don’t just take our word for it ….
Although no one can go back and make a brand-new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand-new ending.
It’s humbling to start fresh. It takes a lot of courage. But it can be reinvigorating. You just have to put your ego on a shelf & tell it to be quiet.
Jennifer Ritchie Payette
The secret to change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.
Never restart a journey and use the same road that failed you before.
Dennis E. Adonis
Starting over can be challenging, but also it can be a great opportunity to do things differently.
The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide you’re not going to stay where you are.
John Pierpont Morgan
*Target is the first module of the ExtraordinaryPM Framework. Target focuses on the how, the why and the what of a project and its scope. On our ExtraordinaryPM Mastery programme, we explore the mobilising power of the Target (‘Big Why’) for your project. With a clear Target in-sight you can align and lead your Tribe more effectively. Your Target is your ‘North Star’ for decision-making and prioritisation and will guide you across the Terrain of your project.
*Terrain is the next of the 5T’s of the ExtraordinaryPM Framework. The Terrain is the landscape and business context of your project’s journey. We train our extraordinary PMs to plan each project like a runner plans a marathon. Our Mastery Programme encourages you to consider where the tough, sticky or uphill stretches could be, what risks you might face, where you’re most likely to need refreshment or rejuvenation and how to deal with both expected and unexpected events that will crop up along the way.
*Time management is critical in project delivery. ExtraordinaryPM’s focus on Mastering their Time, not simply just managing it, so they get the very best from the precious and limited time available to them and their Tribe. On our Mastery Programme, we teach you how to be more productive and balance and prioritise your efforts in order to hit your Target within the time available to you and your Tribe. everyone’s working at the right pace.
*Tribe is another of the 5T’s of the ExtraordinaryPM Framework. Your Tribe is much wider than your team. It is those people you need to build connections with around a shared goal, the Target (another of the 5T’s), in order to get the best from the people around you – whether they’re taking action, controlling risks or delivering a physical product. As part of the ExtraordinaryPM journey, we show you how to lead and influence, inspiring your colleagues, peers and stakeholders to step up and become more effective and engaged. Because building better collaboration is the best way to create real change and measurable impact.
*Thrive is the final part of the ExtraordinaryPM Framework focusses on taking care of yourself. We often use this phrase when considering the work-life balance, but there is so much more to Thrive than just this. Being mindful of how to show up as a leader, choosing how you respond to situations, ensuring you have a support network and protecting yourself professionally through ensuring your project has good governance and decision-making processes are just some of the areas we explore on the ExtraordinaryPM Mastery Programme.
To start your own journey to extraordinary, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org